French Riviera

Pastel colored buidings and restaurants line the water’s edge at Villefranche-Sur-Mer


Visited the towns/cities of Antibes, Cannes, Eze, Juan de Pins, Menton, Monaco/Monte Carlo, Nice and Villfranche Sur Mer while basing ourselves at Cagnes Sur Mer. 

Time of Visit: October 2023

Length of Visit: Five Nights


Le Nomade, a letter metal sculpture in Antibes
One of the many colorful alleys in Menton

The French Riviera is the coastline in southern France.  Despite not having an official boundary, it is considered to begin from Menton to the east near the Italian-French border to Toulon to the west about 40 kilometers east of the city of Marseilles.  Monaco, where the famous Monte Carlo Casino calls home is in the French Riviera.

In French, the French Riviera translates to Côte d’Azur.  They did not name this coastline d’Azur (azure in English) for nothing.  The water in this coastline, for the most part, has some unbelievably azure colored water.  It is almost like swimming in blue Powerade.

We explored the French Riviera for four full days (stayed five nights) in mid-October 2023.  We visited Antibes, Cannes, Eze, Juan de Pins, Menton, Monaco/Monte Carlo, Nice and Villfranche Sur Mer while basing ourselves from Cagnes Sur Mer. There are much more cities, towns and villages in the French Riviera than what we mentioned here.  Here, we share what the weather was like during our visit, how we moved around and some memorable photos from each location.

Sampling of French Riviera Places


Grimaldi Castle turned Museo Picasso is a popular attraction in Antibes
Plage de la Gravette, a public beach in Antibes

It is about a five minute walk from the train station to the marina.  Adjacent to the marina but behind the medieval stone wall is the old part of town where there are shops and restaurants as well as narrow streets.  The wall extends south of the marina and looks more like a fort.  There is also a small market in the old part of town and a small beach area behind the wall at the end of the marina.  At the very end of the marina wall is Le Nomade, a metal sculpture about a 25 feet made out of steel letters welded together.

The Antibes peninsula is quite long at around five kilometers.  We were not able to explore the rest of the peninsula because we only had a day and it was a gray day.  It just was not conducive to exploring.


Some of the public blue chairs by the Cannes promenade
Angelia Jolie’s handprints in Cannes

Cannes is famous for the film festival that bears the same name.  We started our Cannes exploration by heading towards the tourist office which is housed in the Palace of Festivals and Congresses of Cannes (convention center).  The red carpet stairs and the Cannes Walk of Fame are located here.  The red carpet is where the famous actors and actresses walk up to to get inside the convention center.  The Cannes Walk of Fame is similar to the Hollywood Walk of Fame except that it has handprints instead of stars that bear the name of famous actors or actresses.

East of the convention center is a nice walking promenade by the beach.  There are blue painted armchairs behind the retaining wall which is perfect to sit down and watch the azure sea.  The beach is also lined with restaurants.  We walked to the famous Ritz-Carlton before turning back.  The public is allowed to enter the lobby of the famous hotel.

West of the convention center is the marina and the old part of town on top of the hill.  The Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance is located here as well as the large “CANNES” sign.  Just be prepared to tackle some stairs to roam around this part of the city.  It does provide a nice view of the city below.

There are a lot of shops in Cannes that are tucked in narrow alleyways.  You may find a bargain here if you look hard for it.


Typical medieval stone strutures in Eze
View of the Mediterranean Sea from the botanical garden

Eze is a mountain village east of Nice.  There are three ways to get to Eze from the train station.  You can either hike up, take the public bus or hire a rideshare such as Uber.

There is a trail from the Eze train station to the mountain village.  Google Maps shows it’s an hour walk to the village from the train station.  Though you may be tempted that it only takes an hour of walking, it could be a lot longer due to the significant elevation change. 

The bus ride takes approximately 20-25 minutes. We paid the bus driver 2 Euros per person per ride.  Alternatively, you can get a reloadable bus card and tap when you board so the fare can be deducted. The bus downside is it is infrequent.  It runs more than an hour apart and was 20 minutes late when we took it to go up to the village and to return back to the train station.

We saw people that took an Uber to the village from the bus stop by the train station. We also saw cars with Bolt logos (another rideshare company) driving around the village.

Eze is a medieval village.  The structures in the village are still made of stones.  There are no cars, only narrow alleyways.  Bring your toned legs with you as you will be tackling stairs to roam around. 

There is a botanical garden on top of the village.  The cost of admission was 7 Euros pp. It is a predominantly cacti garden with sculptures sprinkled here and there.  There is also a waterfall, whether man made or not, we are not sure.  Most people go to the garden to take in the fabulous views of the French Riviera from a high vantage point.  You can do the same thing if you wine and dine in one of the fancy restaurants there.

Juan les Pins

We walked over from Antibes to Juan les Pins.  It was only a 30 minute walk at a leisurely pace.  Our goal was to set eyes on the beach that we read as the destination of most tourists.  However, what we saw was wavy and grayish water such that we immediately left.  Maybe because it was a blustery and cloudy day. 


Menton’s pastel colred buildings by the sea
One of many realistic looking painted door frame in Menton

You would think you are in Italy when you set foot in Menton.  The colorful pastel buildings are just mesmerizing to look at. It also has a people only promenade that is lined with shops and restaurants.  We also enjoyed walking on the pedestrian area by the beach as it provided a nice view of the coast.

We will remember Menton for those buildings where the frame around the door and window shutters looked real from a distance until you take a closer look and find out that they were drawn (painted).

Monte Carlo/Monaco

In front of the world famous Monte Carlo Casino
Expensive cars in front of the Monte Carlo Casino

A visit to the French Riviera would not be complete without standing in front of the world famous Monte Carlo Casino in Monaco.  This independent French territory is built on the side of a mountain.  You cannot escape walking uphill or downhill here so just be prepared.  Fortunately, there is a public elevator to reach the city from the train station.  The train station was dug up under the mountain.  However, the elevators require some detective work to find.

If you get off the train headed to Niece, head on over to the escalator that takes you to the railroad track pedestrian overpass.  Continue straight on the overpass until you hit the glass doors.  You will find a door to your left.  Past this door are the elevators.  You have to select the highest floor to get to the city’s street level.  Monte Carlo is about a 15 minute walk once you exit the elevators..   


Blue water of the Mediterranean Sea behind the
I Love Nice sign
The city comes to life in the evening

All we can say is that Nice is a “cool” city.  The main street is lined with shops and restaurants. It is very lively at night with a lot of people out and about.  It also has a beach. The water here is probably the bluest we saw in the French Riviera.  

One cool place to have your picture taken is the “I Love # Nice” sign.  The sign is located at the beach viewing area. To find the sign, just walk eastward on the beach promenade and you would not miss it.  

Not far from the sign is the Coline du Chateau which is a historic park with views.  You do need to tackle stairs to reach the park.  The northern part of the park contains the Cimetiere du Chateau.  It is a historic cemetery with sprinkling of sculptures and statues here and there.


One of the many alleys with pastel colored buildings in Villaranche-Sur-Mer
Pastel colored chapel at Villafranche-Sur-Mer

A nice coastal village with pastel colored buildings.  There are lots of restaurants that line the road by the sea.  It just makes you want to sit down,  eat and/or drink and look at the azure water, the people walking by or the sailboats bobbing up and down the marina.

There are narrow alleyways with some shops and restaurants too.  There is also a swimming beach but the waves were a little high during our visit.  Still, there were people in the water.

Weather in mid October

The weather was between comfortable and warm during the day and cool at night and early morning.  Comfortable to us was wearing one layer of clothing while being under the sun.  At mid-day, the sun would make us feel warm on a clear day such that we found ourselves seeking shade for relief,

In the evenings or during cloudy and windy days, we found ourselves donning a second layer such as a long sleeve shirt to a light jacket.  A hat and a pair of sunglasses was essential also.

It rained once during the time we were there.

Getting Around

Our primary mode of transportation was the train.  Except for Eze, we just walked from the train station to the different tourist places.  For Eze, a local bus needs to be taken from the train station to the city center because it is located further inland and on top of a mountain.  However, this bus run’s close to every hour so you have to time you arrival at the Eze train station to avoid spending a lot of time waiting. But during our visit, the bus did not run according to the published schedule. 

Another place that a bus would be needed is Antibes.  Antibes is a peninsula where its southernmost tip is about five kilometers from the train station.  We just walked around and near the marina at Antibes which is close to the train station.

Multi-day Pass Azur

We learned about this pass from the tourist office at Cagnes Sur-Mer.  According to the tourist office, there are 3, 7 and 14 day passes and that these passes are valid on buses, trains and trams.  We did not use the Pass Azur because we learned about it when we had two days left in exploring the French Riviera.  If you are going to use the Pass Azur, make sure you find out where and when it is valid.

Daily SNCF Pass

We purchased SNCF day passes if we were going to visit at least three places for the day.  The day pass allowed us to go as far east to Menton and as far west to Cannes.  The daily pass cost was 16 Euros for the first person and 10 Euros for the second person (26 Euros total for two).  We bought the day pass from the SNCF manned counter at the train station.  We had to provide the person behind the counter a form of identification because our names need to be printed on the pass.

There are times that the counter at the train station can be closed.  So just be aware if you plan to purchase on the day of the trip that you may be unpleasantly surprised it would not be possible.  We did purchase one way train tickets days prior to our departure.  Perhaps the same can be done with the daily pass. 

You can use the ticket vending machines at the train stations if you want to know if the daily pass is more economical for you (see next section).  It may be cumbersome though to enter the different departure and arrival stations and totaling up the costs. 

SNCF Single Journey

There are ticket vending machines at the train stations.  The ticket vending machines accept cash and credit card payments.  The ticket machine interface is rather rudimentary.  Rather than being able to point and choose like a smartphone interface, a dial needs to be turned to move from selection to selection and the dial’s center button needs to be pressed to confirm the selection.


The French Riviera or Cote d’Azur is a phenomenal coastline.  The beautiful cities and towns by the sea are only eclipsed by the Powerade blue water of the Mediterranean Sea.

There is no shortage of places to see and do between the pastel colored city of Menton near the Italian border to the city of Cannes that has hand prints of famous actors and actresses.  Getting to these cities along the riviera is also convenient thanks to the SNCF train.  Except for Antibes, it is walking distance to reach each city’s or town’s attractions.